Cat Cafe Neko Heading To Bellingham, WA

Cat Cafe Neko Heading To Bellingham Winter 2019

Look no further for feline friends. Seattle-based Neko Café is branching out to Bellingham and offering cat coffee, adoptable kitties, and a safe place for animal lovers all over the Pacific Northwest.

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If you enjoy the company of animal companions and live in the Bellingham area, you're in luck. You may have heard of “Cat Cafe" from the Japanese where animal cafes have been around for decades. Fortunatley, cat cafes are expanding across the globe—even to Downtown Bellingham! The trailblazing NEKO is opening late 2019, offering adoptions as well as wine and a heck of a good time.

A cat cafe's primary goal is to spread awareness for animal adoption, rescue, and care while providing a haven for like-minded souls.

The rate is currently $11 per hour with the cats. Proceeds go to keeping the business running, and the kitties healthy and happy. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and reservations are recommended (because all of the cats are very popular and busy).

The founder of Neko, Caitlin, says she was inspired by the cat culture of Japan and Vietnam. Their love, innovation, and compassion toward animals pushed her to bring that light with her to the states. In their mission statement, she expresses the benefits of such an establishment:

“We've got coffee, beer, wine & light nibbles all in the company of CATS! We've partnered with RASKC to bring you adoptable cats of all shapes and sizes and personalities. Whether it be a happy hour after work, a private party in your very own room, or Sunday morning coffee, we've got you covered! When reservations are full in the kitty room, don't forget the cozy bar & cafe is always a great spot to chill."

Services offered include cat themed pastries, sandwiches, coffee, and games. The growing industry of cat and animal cafes decreases shelter crowding and euthanasia risk! Bellingham Humane Society is partnering with Neko to provide and care for cats in need. As Bellingham grows as a college and port city, so must our businesses. There is little doubt that Bellingham Neko will be a commercial and personal success.

Not all cats will be adoptable, as some are employees! They get paid very well in treats, so no need to worry about unfair working conditions. The cats get more vertical and horizontal space to luxuriate in and get the benefit of a community without the dangers of suburban colony life (cars, disease, overpopulation, freezing conditions... etc). The kitties are well loved and socialized and look forward to meeting you all in the late fall of 2019!

If you are looking to adopt a cat sooner than late 2019, please check out the shelters in your area before seeking “milled" animals. Although animals from kitty mills do need warm homes, they are not always at high risk for euthanasia or neglect.

NOTE: it is better to get two cats/kittens at once, and always advised never to separate a bonded pair. Consider the personality of your cat and notice signs of needing attention or apathy which could signal depressive feelings — and remember that animals do speak even though it is in a language we don't usually take time to understand.

Even if a cat appears aloof does not mean they wouldn't ask for a friend, or more space, or time outside, if they could. Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. Be vigilant. Cats can get bored, lonely, and sad. Cats need other cats just like we need other people to survive — so this cat cafe is an excellent idea for both cats and people everywhere.

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11 Confessions Of A Former Chuy's Employee

It was truly the best time that I never want to have again!
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Chuy's "Tex-Mex" Restaurant was the place I called home (off and on) for close to two years. I met my husband while working there and I met some remarkable life-long friends along the way. Chuy's shaped me, changed me and really pissed me off from time to time. It was truly the best time that I never want to have again! I have absolutely no regrets from my time working there, but I also have NO intention of ever going back.


Here are eleven truths, myths and/or little nuggets of wisdom that I have obtained after living and loving Chuy's through the years.

1. No, this isn't real Mexican food

I am fully aware that Chuy's is far from authentic Mexican cuisine. You see, in Texas, we appreciate both the real version of Mexican food and the Texas-altered version. Texans are cool like that. We like to put our own spin on things while still respecting the original creators. Hence the name, tex-mex.

2. Speaking of tex-mex, Chuy's is first of it's kind

In 1982, Mike Young and John Zapp (the founders) opened up a quaint and very eccentric little spot in Austin, TX calling it tex-mex and creating a ripple effect that eventually spread across the entire state. Chuy's Restaurants can now be found in nineteen states across the nation and they are opening new stores in new unexpected locations every year!

3. Chuy's doesn't advertise!

If you have ever set foot in a Chuy's at any point, I'm sure you have noticed the wide array of unique t-shirt options they have supplied for the staff (and any other patrons who are willing to sacrifice $19.99) . Among being mindlessly clever, these t-shirts serve as their only form of advertising. No fancy commercials, no newspaper ads, just t-shirts and word of mouth! Are you impressed yet? Well you probably should be!

4. It's called creamy jalapeño!

Creamy J, the white sauce, the crack sauce, spicy ranch, cilantro ranch and my personal favorite, the green sauce (IT'S NOT EVEN GREEN) are all interchangeable to you people. But the name is creamy freaking jalapeño. So don't look at me crazy when I don't bring you the correct "green sauce" that isn't green.

5. No, I can't give you the recipe

The exact recipe is unbeknownst to the public and I imagine most Chuy's professionals would like to keep it that way (as it keeps the customers coming back for more). Yes, you can try to convince me (and the rest of your table) that you pinned the EXACT Creamy J recipe on Pinterest. But I can almost guarantee that you didn't. It might be an almost replica, but I am about 99% sure that it is not exact. I appreciate your enthusiasm though.

6. Most managers are avidly against the mortal sin called the "pre-creamy", but a lot of servers do it anyway

To make a long story short, at one point in time, (so I've been told) servers were instructed to carry creamy out to their table alongside the chips and fresca (the red sauce that you probably hate) upon greeting a table. I was not employed at such a time, but one can only imagine how glorious it must have been. Legend has it that (at this point in time) Chuy's was trying to promote/introduce the mysterious special sauce to their patrons. Well, inevitably, the sauce grew to such an immense popularity that they realized it would be more cost-efficient to only serve creamy upon request. You can imagine the uproar. People are living in a world where the crack sauce is limitless, and then one day, they enter their favorite restaurant only to find the server greeting their table WITH NO WHITE SAUCE. What a time to be alive, man! So they now incessantly preach to the staff to avoid the "pre-creamy" at all costs, and to wait until a guest requests it (because Chuy's and just about every other business out there is trying to save money). You can't really blame them there. Regardless, please attempt to keep your composure the next time that you are greeted without creamy and/or have to ask for it. I know, it is clearly a life-altering situation, but the servers are literally just following their manager's instruction. They really don't deserve the attitude.

7. Some servers don't give a shit about the "pre-creamy" rule

To elaborate on this serious topic of discussion, I will say that some most of the more seasoned Chuy's vets ignore the "pre-creamy" rule entirely. Which explains why sometimes your server will bring the creamy automatically, and other servers prefer to wait for you to request it. As it is with any restaurant, as time progresses, you slowly care less and less about pleasing management, and more and more about appeasing your financial necessities. (ie. I care more about getting a good tip than saving my manager money, so I will "pre-creamy" and not think twice about it). I was one of these savages, and I have zero shame. I like money, and I like happy tables. I'm sorry?

8. We cater to all walks of life

Chuy's has incredible food anyway you look at it. About 99 percent of the food is made fresh daily! No joke! But what makes it even more incredible is the amount of options and diet plans we can cater to. Chuy's has innumerable gluten free options, as well as dairy-free and vegetarian. In fact, all of the rice and bean options at Chuy's are vegetarian (meaning that they are free from all the nasty, super unhealthy swine products). Yay Chuy's!

9. SLOW YOUR ROLL ON THE CHIPS!

The absolute worst thing about working for Mexican restaurants is the continual never-ending war of trying to maintain a full chip basket. As if trying to keep your bowl of creamy filled up to the brim wasn't hard enough, we are constantly plagued with the fear of your chips running out, as well. Some (smarter) servers will bring multiple baskets of chips to a table, if they have the extra time to prepare them in the beginning of your dining experience. But even then, with some tables, it never feels like enough. I don't know if you're chewing your chips properly or just eating them like a rabid animal... but either way, maybe you should take it down a notch and not yell at your server for appeasing your unhealthy eating habits. Seriously people, chew your damn food!

10. Sometimes we run out of things

Whether it be one of our famous "daily specials" like roasted pork enchiladas or shrimp taquitos, or something more severe like plates or bowls, Chuy's Restaurants definitely have shortages at times. Regarding the food, our specials are made fresh daily (generally in the morning to ensure that everything is done efficiently before the lunch or dinner rush). So when we run out of a specific item, we are literally out (until more of said product is made in the shit storm that is a Chuy's kitchen). We cannot just run to our freezer and throw it in the microwave. Chuy's doesn't work like that, and you should be thankful for this! And regarding the plates, bowls, ramekins, silverware and whatever else, that might be a problem specific to our store. We definitely had some troubling shortages in my time working there, but I am hopeful that maybe things have changed since my employment.

11. Be kind always

Last and finally, I want to harp on the importance of kindness and patience when you dine at Chuy's (or any restaurant for that matter). In most cases, your server only controls a small part of your dining experience. Running out of silverware, slow ticket times, long waits to be seated, being seated in the "wrong" booth, noisy table neighbors, drinks made incorrectly and SO much more are completely out of their control. Probably a server's biggest responsibility is maintaining a kind, upbeat and unreasonably positive demeanor when the world around them and everything in it is going to complete horse shit. Seriously, they're doing the best that they can with the hand that they've been dealt. And chances are, they are doing everything in their power to ensure that you have a great experience! So like, stop being an ass-hat and think long and hard about whatever insult you want to throw their way, because 99 percent of the time, they probably don't deserve it. Also, don't forget to tip! Compliments are great, but cash is better.

Cover Image Credit: Female Foodie

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After My Cat's Passing, It's Hard To Move On To Someone New

My true love left us too early, and now I'm wondering if I adopted my new cat too soon.

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On October 4, 2015, I drove to my 100-year-old creaking house with a meowing cardboard box in the backseat. I ascended the two flights of stairs to my attic bedroom, cautiously handling the box that held the absolute love of my life.

Betty Jo was a 13-pound cat with a hanging belly and piercing green eyes. She'd never met a stranger and was the ideal date in most situations. Unlike the dogs and cat I had as a child, Betty Jo was fully mine. I was completely responsible for providing to her never-ending needs. The nighttime was her time. When 5 a.m. rolled around, she'd wallow and meow throughout the house looking for any bit of attention from her sleeping housemates, much to our dismay.

But to come home to a living, breathing being that was ecstatic to see me nearly cured my depression. As if she'd read over and memorized my class schedule, Betty Jo never failed to greet me with a perky meow and a whooshing tail as she rubbed against the wooden staircase she knew I'd eventually ascend. She was the perfect companion when I fell victim to pneumonia just a month after bringing her home.

She offered security one night after I'd attempted to watch the first episode of American Horror Story. I was alone in the house on a Friday night when my bed began to tremble. It wasn't unusual for her to gently shake the bed as she cleaned herself, but this time she was just lying there.

Every possibility of ghosts or paranormal activity in that senior house came flying through my mind. My doorless walk-in closet was the perfect place for an apparition to saunter across my room. Of course, cats can see ghosts, right? So if anything, Betty Jo would know something was going on before I would, right? It turned out to only be an earthquake, though. So, everything was OK, but I still felt better with her by my side.

A month before graduation I totaled my car, leaving me even more clueless as to where my college education would lead me. With a borrowed bike to get me to and fro, I took the insurance money and graduation checks I'd received from family friends and distant relatives and fled to New York City.

But, I couldn't take Betty Jo, aka Elizabeth Josephine. Not yet, anyway. I had to maneuver finding a job while living in someone else's home on Long Island. I needed to be able to give her stability. You see, she was eight years old (or so her papers say) when I adopted her. She was a young grandma, but a grandma nonetheless. Her adoption fee was waived, but that didn't save me from the $500 I spent when I found out she had stress-triggered cat acne.

My duty as her owner was to keep her as calm as possible. The first time she flew our flight made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. I was like a newly single mother trying to keep her from ripping out of her carrier. I thought she'd find reprieve outside the carrier at one point. She'd clearly had enough when she wriggled out of her harness and leaped across a cat-opposed woman's lap. I was mortified and had failed at keeping her as calm as possible.

Cute picture of cat on colorful rug Madeline Nave

Her time in New York was not something I'm proud of. I was busy juggling a full-time job and a social life. Often leaving my apartment by 8 a.m. and not returning until 10 p.m. or later did not keep Betty Jo happy. I wasn't happy about that. Although, the excuse of needing to go home to feed my cat came in pretty handy when I no longer wanted to be out.

So I took her home. My mom willingly agreed to take care of her, and I knew Betty would be happier.

I spent two years in New York. Two years away from Betty. I moved home seven months before she died. Moving home was bittersweet. New York was insanely good but also insanely bad at some points. I'd decided that home would be a landing place until I was ready to flee the coop again.

My days were spent talking to and mocking Elizabeth Josephine. We'd play chase around the house which ended with heartwarming laughs and sincere cuddles. She taught me internal peace.

Soon, she'd begun vomiting frequently. During one episode, I was able to intercept and get her to the bathtub, saving the carpet or bedspread from a stain. While she paced in the porcelain tub, I sat on the floor trying to read her expression. I had an overwhelming feeling that something was seriously wrong.

It was cancer.

One of two types of cancer. One could be treated with chemotherapy, the other could not. At this point, Betty was 11 years old. As a single mother of an elderly cat, I couldn't afford to put Betty through treatment financially or mentally. So, I prepared myself for the waiting game. I filled diffusers with lavender and peppermint oil to soothe any chance of an upset tummy for her. I gave her space to nest but was right by her side at any peep.

She died within 24 hours of diagnosis.

On December 21, 2018, a body-shaking sob took over my relatively emotionless person as Betty Jo took her last breath. There hadn't been a time in at least ten years that I'd shown anyone that much emotion. There I was, in a room with a veterinarian I didn't know and my mother, completely losing it. My best friend was gone forever.

I had dreams for her, thoughts of a ring for her. She was supposed to move to New Orleans with me in 2020. And live with me until I was at least 30. But death comes unexpectedly.

Three months later, my sister gifts me a cat of my choosing from the local humane society. I chose Gracie, a 6-year-old one-eyed blue-haired girl. She's great, kind of quirky, but she's not Betty. She runs away when you look at her and only wants to be touched when she approaches you. She's talkative but not exactly personable. She's nothing like Betty, and finding contentment with that is taking some time for me.

Did I replace Betty Jo too soon? Will I ever stop reminiscing about her? I'm not sure those questions can ever be answered. But I'm confident Gracie has found a good home in me.

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